By Femi Fani-Kayode
“Labelling the attackers as Fulani is wrong. Fulani people are peaceful and live in harmony with other ethnicities. To call the killer herdsmen Fulani is a misnomer. They are just criminals and not Fulani criminals”- Vice President Atiku Abubakar, 11 March 2018, Thisday Newspaper.
Is it so difficult for us to accept the ugly truth and to call a spade a spade? Must we continue to mock the memories of those that have been slaughtered by shielding those who butchered them? Have we no shame or remorse? Are these childish semantics and infantile denials really necessary?
I have immense respect and affection for Vice President Atiku Abubakar and it stretches back for many years but this assertion shocks and surprises me. It is most unlike him to speak in this way. And I happen to know that he is far bigger and better than this.
There are however some ugly realities that we have to accept and live with in this country and this is one of them. Living in denial cannot solve the problem: it can only aggravate it and make it worse.
It is bad enough that hardly any Fulani leaders have come out to publicly condemn the activities of their herdsmen but to condemn the horrendous acts and then attempt to shield the racial identity of those behind it by saying that they are not Fulani is even worse.
Permit me to expand on this. Saying that the Fulani terrorists are not Fulani is rather like saying that Adolf Hitler’s Nazis, who gassed 6 million Jews to death in concentration camps during Word War 1, were not German. It is like saying that Abubakar Shekau and his Boko Haram footsoldiers, who have slaughtered thousands of our people over the last few years, are not Muslims and are not Nigerians.
It is like saying that the white Boers who owned and ran apartheid-South Africa, who slaughtered the black African population and who regarded them as nothing more than animals that were only fit for breeding and slave labour, were not caucasians and did not originally come from Holland in western Europe.
Such assertions fly in the face of logic, have no basis in veracity, are manifestly irrational and are deeply insulting. Not only are they deeply flawed but, worst of all, they are designed to conceal the truth and obstruct any future attempt to bring the perpertrators to justice.
And if Atiku Abubakar or anyone else insists on saying that the killer herdsmen are not Fulani then perhaps they could tell us exactly what they are, who they are and where they come from?
Are they from Mars? Are they from Pluto? Are they from the moon? Or are they from the dark and sinister Vulture Mountain and the infamous “land of the bitter waters” in Futa Jalon, Guniea?
Last year Governor Nasir El Rufai told the world that they are non-Nigerian Fulanis and that they were from Niger, Mali, Chad and other such places.
Atiku has now gone a step further by saying that they are not Fulani at all, whether local or foreign! This consistent and constant denial from Fulani leaders has to stop. They must accept the fact that some of their people are naturally murderous and they must do something about it.
We must not shy away from challenging anyone who attempts to becloud this issue or mislead the Nigerian people.
It does not matter if we happen to be in the same political party or in different ones. If anyone, no matter how highly placed or respected, crosses the line or indulges in any shape or form of mendacity and deception in this matter, we must and will call that person out.
That is what leadership is all about. And this is all the more important because the situation appears to be getting worse and, if we are not careful, it may escalate into a full scale religious and tribal war that would cause Nigeria to cease to exist.
Consider the words of Mr. Magnus Oraka who is from Jos and whose community was attacked just a few days ago.
He posted a moving and emotional video from his hometown on Facebook yesterday in which he spoke with courage and passion. He said,
“This Fulani attack and killing is war against Nigeria and war against Christians. It is not APC vs PDP, it is Muslim vs Christian. We don’t have weapons to defend ourselves, all we have are sticks……”
To butress his point about the religious dimension of the conflict, according to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) many Churches have been burnt down by Fulani herdsmen all over the country in the last three years. 60 of them were burnt down in Benue state in the last few weeks whilst over 1000 have been burnt down in Southern Kaduna alone in the last three years!
If this were simply a conflict over land rights and a struggle between tribes and ethnic nationalities why on earth are Churches being targetted by the Fulani as well?
Whichever way you look at it, clearly the victims and members of the indigenous communities that are under siege are getting fed up. Their backs are up against the wall and they are eager to defend themselves and hit back.
And given what they have been subjected to over the years and particulatly since Buhari came to power three years ago, who can blame them?
Most importantly they are under no illusion and have no doubt about who the aggressors, attackers and perpetrators are and where they come from.
The truth is that not only are these barbarians and genocidal maniacs that take delight in indulging in mass murders Fulani but they are also NIGERIAN Fulanis.
They are inspired, led, guided, funded, supported and protected by Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Herders Association which are both organisations that are made up of Fulanis
The Chairman of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, one Abdullahi Bello Bodejo, is Fulani as well just as are all the leaders of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association like one Garus Gololo.
At one time or the other every single one of these individuals together with many other Fulani leaders such as the spokesman of the Arewa Consultative Forum, the notorious and rabidly pro-northern Fulani supremacist, Professor Ango Abdullahi, have tried to defend, justify and rationalise the outrageous and barbaric behaviour of their members and Fulani kinsmen.
They have said that the killings were inescapable, unpreventable and justified and that the Fulani herdsmen had every right to attack and slaughter innocent and defenceless people, including women and children, simply because those people were obstructing the free movement of Fulani cattle from one part of the country to another.
They also accused them of preventing the Fulani cows from eating their crops and of building houses on some fictitious and non-existent cattle routes which they claim that our erstwhile British colonial masters had allegedly granted them as far back as 1904!
Miyetti Allah itself went further by alluding to the fact that they were pleased with Buhari’s attitude to the whole matter and indeed the way that he has run the country over the last three years and that if he was not re-elected as President in 2019 they would “burn Nigeria to the ground”.
Knowing all this, for someone to now say that the killers are not Fulani is clearly an attempt to mislead the public and to befuddle the issues.
The Fulani leaders MUST accept that they own this problem and they must take full responsibility for the brutality, savagery and unacceptable behaviour of their people.
We must stop the deceit. There is no room for political correctness here or attempting to sweep the truth under the carpet. I say this because dozens of innocent people are being killed every day.
Furthermore it is disingenious and unfair to expect us not to call the terrorists behind the killings who and what they really are: terrorists. We call them that because they are committing crimes against humanity and because they are members of the Fulani race.
If any Fulani leader is uncomfortable with that and do not want us to call them what they are then they are best advised to counsel and control their Fulani brothers and tell them to stop behaving like animals and killing our people.
Only a Fulani man will say that it is wrong or that it is a misnomer to call a killer Fulani herdsman and a Fulani terrorist what he is.
Such a man that is not ready to call a spade a spade cannot be taken seriously.
Let us make no mistake about it: todays struggle is not just about party politics or getting Buhari out of power in 2019.
The struggle is far bigger than that and it is essentially about securing our liberation. We are fighting to be free and to win our liberation from the hegemony, tyranny, cruelty and barbarity of the killer herdsmen who have slaughtered our people like flies over the last three years and who insist on ruling our nation in perpetuity and turning us all into little more than paupers, beggars and slaves.
If that makes some uncomfortable it is simply too bad and it changes nothing. The truth is that it is time for us to call a spade a spade and to stop pampering the enemy or massaging his ego.
If the killer herdsmen want to be treated with decorum, respect and affection and if any Fulani man ever wishes to have a hope in hell of being elected President of our country ever again, the genocide and ethnic cleansing that they unleash on our people on a daily basis must stop. Anything short of that is unacceptable.
Permit me to share the words of Mr. Samson Tannon Tongman who said the following:
“The agenda is bigger than Atiku. It is jihad, land grab and Islamization. All northerners must fall in line, including Atiku”.
This is an insighful and deeply profound observation. It also provides a veritable explanation for the doublespeak that virtually every single northern Muslim leader, including a liberal and otherwise benign and reasonable one like Atiku, indulges in when it comes to the nefarious and unspeakable atrocities of the Fulani herdsmen and terrorists.
It appears that Mr. Opeyemi Oluyade was right when he said,
“this is the time for liberation politics, not party politics: liberation from the Fulani”.
Permit me to conclude this contribution with the words of embattled Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state whose people have been subjected to nothing less than genocide and have suffered immeasurably at the hands of the Fulani terrorists in the last three years. A few days ago he hosted President Buhari in his state and said,
“On 30th May, 2017, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore in a ‘World Press Conference’ held in Abuja, opposed the Ranching Law. They called on Fulani herders in all of West Africa to come into Benue to help them reclaim their land. In the same vein, Miyetti Allah Cattle Herders Association in their Press Conference declared that more blood will flow in Benue if the Ranching Law is not rescinded. Your Excellency, as a President that supports the Rule of Law, you will most certainly be offended by these hate speeches that may have crossed the red line. Your Excellency, how can a group claim responsibility for the killings that happened and are going about scot free? How can a group make public these inciting and criminal declarations in an organized society and are not arrested by the Police? Your Excellency, kindly order the immediate arrest and prosecution of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and Miyetti Cattle Breeders Association for carrying out their threats to attack Benue on account of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017”.
This is wise and courageous counsel from Ortom and it is long overdue. I agree with him that the leaders of Miyetti Allah should be arrested but I would go a step further by suggesting that the organisation should also be proscribed and declared as a terrorist organisation.
From the foregoing it appears that not everyone has been fooled or persuaded by the misleading assertion and perfidious narrative that those that are carrying out the killings are not Fulani.
Governor Ortom knows that they are Fulani just as does every other discerning and sensible Nigerian.
Furthermore by stating their intention to spill even more blood and kill every soul in Benue state and elsewhere simply because of the passing of the Anti-Grazing Bill, Miyetti Allah have not only confessed to their heinous crimes against humanity but they have also relished them, boasted about them and have made it abundantly clear that they intend to kill many more innocent people, including women and children.
What more evidence do we need to prove that these terrorists and mass murderers are indeed Fulani and that they have no intention of stopping the carnage until the people of southern and Middle Belt Nigeria are either completely wiped out and ethnically cleansed off the face of the earth or are ready to submit to them, give them all their land, give them all their farms and bow to their cows?
Those that are eager to mislead the world, becloud the issues, brush the filth under the carpet and cover the tracks of these bloodthirsty beasts should answer that question.
Permit me to conclude this contribution with the following.
Every day since the beginning of this year Fulani terrorists have killed people in one part of Nigeria or the other and the number of those murdered over the last three years has entered into the thousands.
On Thursday 15th March 2018, 35 innocent people, including women and children, were slaughtered in Kogi state as well.
The state has not passed an Anti-Grazing Law, its people have not blocked any cow-grazing routes and it’s Governor, a young Igbira businessman by the name of Yahaya Bello, is a bumbling slave of the Fulani and a self-deprecating acolyte of Buhari who donated 15,000 hectares of state land to the herdsmen for the establishment of the infamous cattle ranches.
For those who say that the reason that the killer herdsmen butcher innocent people is because of the Anti-Grazing Law, blocked grazing routes, hostility to them from the local indegenous population, hatred for Buhari or the refusal to establish cattle ranches, how do you explain this?
The truth is that there is no reason for their behaviour other than they wish to wipe out entire indigenous populations all over Nigeria in order to take their land, steal their mineral resources, rape their women, conquer their souls, enslave their people and break their spirit.
It is their legendry brutality that qualified them to be the slave raiders for the Europeans and the Arabs during the days of the slave trade.
No-one, not even the quislings amongst us that sell their souls and trade their birthright to them, that role out the red carpet to receive them and that bow and tremble before them are safe or exempt from their sociopathic barbarity and their psyhcopathic savagery.
That is a bitter lesson that many in our country still have to learn.
You cannot appease a ravenous and insatiable snake and you cannot befriend a wild and hungry beast.